Techcraver Review: Sprint Mobile Broadband and Novatel Express Card Merlin Card EX720

A recurring message on this website is the need to be able to compute and communicate any time, anywhere. This is why I love mobile technology, because of the flexibility and utility it provides for people on the go.

As more technologists, business professionals, and mobile folks go about, they need a way to get online and do their business. I have mentioned before how the mobile networks in the US situated are for providing mobile broadband. Basically, the CDMA providers including Sprint and Verizon Wireless have the widest mobile data footprint. AT&T and T-Mobile have 3G data networks, but coverage is spotty, sometimes even in heavily populated urban areas.

Last time I reviewed a Verizon Wireless BroadbandAccess card, but now it’s time to check out the competition: the Sprint mobile broadband service, along with the Novatel Express Card Merlin Card EX720.

Getting Set Up

I received the Novatel Express Card and upon opening the box, realized that the installer CD is only contained software for Windows. On my MacBook Pro, this posed a slight issue, but was quickly alleviated by downloading the Mac software off the Sprint support website.

Upon downloading the software, I ran through the software install and device configuration portion, which went really well. Setting up and using the card was smooth and easy, unlike my poor experience with the Verizon BroadbandAccesss card I had used earlier.

After installation, getting online is as easy as popping the EX720 into your ExpressCard slot and firing up the Sprint SmartView software…very slick!

Testing the Network

I used the Sprint broadband card in many parts in and around Portland and Salem, Oregon. Even in rural areas between these two cities, I was able to surf the web and do online work at very snappy 3G speeds.

How were the speeds? I was impressed with the upload and download speeds I receive when I get online with the Sprint card. The services felt very peppy while uploading and downloading data. I would say that Sprint’s network felt every bit as fast as a 1.5 Mpbs DSL line I used to have. Latency was not an issue with Sprint, unlike Verizon where I noticed it to a minor degree.


The Sprint mobile broadband network and Novatel Express Card Merlin Card EX720 is a solid, fast, and reliable option for mobile professionals who need to be connected while on-the-go. The card and associated network is remarkably fast enough for all your mobile computing needs.

My only criticism for Sprint is to include the Mac install software on the install CD along side the Windows software. With Mac notebook sales reaching some 20-24% of total notebook sales, Sprint is ignoring almost a quarter of the market by not including OS X install files on the EX720’s install CD. This wasn’t too much of an issue for me, as I had a backup way to get online while I was configuring the Sprint SmartView client. However, if I was on the road and needed to configure the Sprint card to get online, this would have been agitating.

The bottom line is that Sprint broadband network is a fast network that will allow you to do your online business wherever you open up your laptop. Also, the EX720 card is easy to work with and will make hopping on the Spint network a breeze!